My students’ finals for my class was yesterday afternoon and this morning.  Yesterday was rad, I played around with Christmas present stuff all morning, and then moseyed to Krispy Kreme for donuts for all those young hard workin’ kids, and then moseyed to campus.

This morning, since this finals period was from 8:00-10:00am, I got to Krispy Kreme by 7:15 and made it to campus just in time to run (RUN, with fifteen pounds of student folders, laptop, and donuts) up the hill to Ayres where I made it to my classroom with five minutes to spare.  Unfortuntely six students were sitting there waiting for me, but whatever—I have lost so much poise in front of these kids this semester that they seem to just be amused when I do weird things.  Like misspell words on the whiteboard—you know.

Now, since all but two students have come through, I’m sitting alone in this beautiful classroom (Ayres is a lovely building, with dark wood wainscoting, and our large, many-paned windows look out into huge holly trees), eating the leftover donuts.  Ah.  Well, I’ve only had two.  It’s so weird how many people like the glazed donuts—I just can’t get into them.  I got three cake donuts (which I love) and nobody has touched them.  I asked both sections what kind of donut I should get for their final, and they all basically said glazed, chocolate glazed, and “the ones with sprinkles,” and I was like—WHAT??  Who taught you to eat that kind of donut???  I totally thought that the kids who offered those suggestions were in the minority, and the ones who didn’t suggest any particular kind of donut would be the sensible ones who would eat the cake donuts, but no.  ALL the glazed ones have been eaten.

It’s been a great semester, teaching.  I actually kind of enjoyed it.  For me, enjoying my work has a lot to do with feeling competent at it, and I’ve finally gotten there.  I’m irritated that I have to teach an entirely new class next semester, though.  There goes 65% of my feelings of competence.  One of my committee members, the very cool Dr. Hardwig, told me that teaching gets a lot easier once you start teaching the same classes.  This switching-up of classes—organizing the schedule, finding readings, making new lessons plans, assignments, and rubrics—is the hard part.  This is both encouraging (this year has been hard, and would have been hard, for anyone) and discouraging (what if I end up being a teacher…).

But so many of my students have told me that they learned stuff, that they enjoyed the class, and I’ve actually been able to see so much improvement in their work.  I feel good about the work I’ve done, here, and I didn’t expect that.  I’m lucky.

I need to start expecting that good things will happen, because they do.  Which is not to say that bad things won’t happen—it’s just that hope makes my life so much fuller, richer.  And hope makes me able to love people, which I have been steadily getting worse and worse at, over the years.  I always want to blame my insecurities and bitternessess on the people that disappointed me—especially a rash of bad friends that tore through a few years ago—but my emotional/psychological/whatever health is my work, my vocation.

I used to read Julian of Norwich’s Showings all the time—every day, for a while—and was just completely in love with her assurance that God was overjoyed with her.  This is something Hafiz wrote about, too.  And I’ve gotten a pretty fair distance from that assurance.  I’m coming back, though.

To close: One of my students, in her final paper on why wind energy doesn’t have a future in America (don’t worry, FAILED HER) (just kidding), was writing about responsibilities alternative energy industries have to be profitable & stuff, and she used the phrase “the duty of the windmills.”  Obviously this phrase has Cervantean resonance, though I didn’t realize that until this morning.  At first, I thought I loved it because she’s not a great writer, and she clearly hit up for a synonym for “responsibility” or “need” or “have to,” and ended up with a delightfully strange phrasing.  And I’m all about the delightfully strange.

But now I think I like it because I just had the thought: it’s the duty of the windmills to upset illusory thinking.  Not dreams, not visionary thinking—just illusory thinking.  And that is going to help me get back on some kind of road to realistic thinking about my life: it is delightful to God.  No matter how backward, and stuck, and miserable I have been at times, and no matter how much (it’s dreadful) I still have to learn about how to live.  That’s the kind of illusory thinking I have: thinking that because of this fight, my marriage is OVER, or that because I don’t have friends like George Bailey my life is a wash, etc., ad nauseum.

So, there’s that.  It’s almost Christmas, and it finally (if briefly) has gotten cold.  And we finally broke down and got poison for the mice to snack on, instead of our lentils and turmeric.  All good stuff.  Here’s to winter break.